Maggie Fraser met the man of her dreams one day in New York City. She had never been happier - until tragedy struck, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Her recovery was rudely interrupted by her accidental possession of a mysterious and ancient amulet.What was this amulet? And why was she being pursued for it? Travel with Maggie as she criss-crosses multiple countries unraveling the secrets of the amulet and searching for the inner peace, acceptance, and personal direction that had been so disrupted.
I have been honored to have this book compared to Dan Brown and Diana Gabaldon by no less than a Kirkus critic. It's similar to Dan Brown in that it describes a cat-and-mouse adventure between an unsuspecting victim an an obscure, rogue Catholic cult. It has been compared to Diana Gabaldon because of it's strong, resilient, female Scottish protagonist. If you like books of that genre - with some strong emotional component - you just very well may love this heroine, Maggie.
I write what I can describe, and I feel most confident describing places I have been - places that I know. I have stayed in Italian rooms with double shutters. I have stood at the wall in Assisi and stared in wonder at the fields below. I have walked cobbled streets is small Scottish hamlets, visiting the green grocer, then the butcher, then the baker. I have been on the University of Michigan campus and walked Cranbrook. I can recall peering up cobbled and winding narrow streets admiring the arched wooden doors and the spills of flowers tumbling off windowsill planters. Being able to smell the air and notice small facts, I think, adds such truth and sincerity to a story.
I know that "letting go" seems to logically be followed by "moving on." I am not sure that is exactly true. I think that a heart never lets go of true, deep, perfect love. Even if a person is forced - chooses - to move on, that doesn't mean they have actually let go. No, they move their love to a different part of their heart: a sacred, cherished and protected space where it will always remain. A place that they can return to with fond, sometimes bittersweet, memories of a very special time... a very special person.
The Kirkus critic found "powerful emotional satisfaction" in this "cozy mystery." Here's what else was said: "...the pacing is quick, and the element of travel provides rich backdrops and description. Readers will find the unfolding story charming and ultimately affirming... a satisfying synthesis of mystery, history, and emotion."
My protagonist, Maggie, grew up in a very protective family. Being so protected allowed her to safely fight the constraints placed upon her. She had faced no true challenges - until a fateful day in September. Maggie's discovery of her own inner strength and resilience is a strong undercurrent throughout this cozy mystery/action novel. It is a study in how a person, when faced with adversity and danger, can rise to the occasion.
I had such a good time writing and researching this: a few facts that might be of interest: yes, there really was an Alan Fitzwalter, second steward of Scotland. Yes, he fought in the Third Crusade with Richard the Lion Heart. He did have a son a couple of years older than our little Francesco. And a few generations beyond him, his direct descendant decided to adopt the last name Stewart and claim the throne of Scotland. Bonnie Prince Charlie was his direct descendant.
Please don't be too offended by the language on the first page: it is the only profanity in the entire book. It just happens to fall in the second paragraph. Here is this book's latest review: hopefully it will pique your interest! "Wendy Thomson’s The Third Order is a fine novel that works on a number of levels—as a thriller, an adventure novel, a Dan Brown-like fusion of historical and religious conspiracies, an archeological mystery, a critique of how ideals are tarnished and betrayed, and above all a sensitive portrait of a resilient and resourceful woman who must rebuild her life after a tragic accident. The story is exciting and multi-layered, racing back and forth between countries, continents, and centuries—all handled deftly by the author. The characters are well-drawn and memorable, particularly (for me) the contemporary main character, Maggie, and a battle-weary twelfth-century Scottish warrior whose large spirit helps change the course of religious history. I highly recommend this engaging and fast-moving novel." - 5 stars, Don Levin at goodreads.com
Our heroine Maggie is driven to understand the amulet in her possession and the reason she is being pursued for it. She decides an important key lies in Assisi. Although she speaks no Italian, she is undaunted. Bound and determined, she is off to learn more.
I fell in love with Assisi when I was there performing a concert many years ago. This flashback takes us back to a young St. Francis - before he was a saint, before he was a soldier... when he was a youngster dreaming of becoming a Knight Templar. He did eventually become a soldier. This except imagines a young Francesco meeting an idol.
I have met several people in my life with significant emotional issues: people who have OCD. People who are significantly Bi-Polar. People who are narcissistic, people who are Histrionic. This character is patterned after an unfortunate man that used to live next to me. He was a classic hoarder and had fairly severe OCD. He also was poor at recognizing limits and tried to overcome his discomfort around others by chortling at the most inappropriate times. He also would stop mid-sentence and break into Hail Mary Full of Grace. He is very real, and here I captured the idiosyncrasies he exhibited. I also called the cops on him once for discharging a weapon in his back yard and also peering into my windows, hands up against the glass around his face so he could look in. Quite creepy.
Little does Maggie know that this chance discovery would lead her on adventures never expected. The article depicted is an accurate description of a shape found in ancient Pictish carvings. I took great pains finding true-to-history facts from which I wove this story. The research was at least as rewarding as writing the book.
No matter how many times I read this, it makes me smile. There is something so tender and heart-warming about the bloom of fresh, young love.
I recently received this review, and I am at a loss for words at how humbled and honored I am. "Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Gabaldon to Thomson! September 26, 2018 Captivating. If you love Diana Gabaldon, you will love Wendy Thomson! Well researched to really make the moments and events have color and flavor. Enjoy!
I am personally quite fond of having a reader follow an innocent story, just drifting along, and then.... BAM. Something entirely unexpected happens - right before the chapter ends. If a reader is sleepily reading along, enjoying a benign story, it really wakes them up. Like Haydn's Surprise Symphony. :-)
When I was very small I wanted dearly to be a dancer. I had been given a book about a little girl and ballet. I can still vividly remember it - and because of it, day after day, I would practice first position, second position... I would imagine that my protagonist is what that dreaming little would have been, had she been able. What we can't be, we can always create in the written word.
I love true love - the kind of love that is deep, and easy, and comfortable. Maggie and Ben have that love. This except comes from the opening lines of this book, which is full of twists and turns and surprises. This is a chick-lit book: it has romance, a wide range of experienced emotions, a fair share of drama, suspense, and adventure.
A toddler in an emotionally explosive and unstable family has her leg amputated. In spite of significant hurdles, she powers through to become a successful career woman and equally successful single parent.
I lost my right leg at the knee when I was a toddler. Almost everyone I talk to thinks that this book is about dealing with that trauma. No - that was not what was the biggest trauma. Oh sure, it has caused complications - but the emotional environment my siblings and I were in was, by far, worse. Neither my sister or brother managed to overcome it well. The loss of a leg was merely icing on the trauma cake.
I never really aspired to be an author. Even after Sloan Wilson sent a New York literary agent my way, contract in hand, when I was only twenty. He was distasteful and confused - I came away with a healthy disregard for the industry. Fast forward thirty-five years: during my annual "it's October - what in the world am I going to do all winter?" doldrums my younger son suggested I write a book about my life and life lessons. I was quite surprised, but I took him up on the challenge. I have met wonderful people in the last three years and am working on my third book. Storytelling has become quite addictive.
The story of this book: I was talking to my younger son one day, wondering what i should do to while away long winter months. I mentioned the I should perhaps become a substitute teacher, which horrified him. He said I would hate it - that students treated subs terribly. I asked him, then, what would he suggest? He said, "write a book. Write a book about your life lessons." So, I did. There are life lessons scattered within, but for those that were, at best, implied, I laid them out here, in the Epilogue. What I wish to leave with readers? Perhaps a more effective way to see and deal with life circumstances. #readerlove
I chose the passage about traveling post-2001, but I'm not sure what I am about to say reflects that passage properly. We were asked to provide reader comments. There have been two that humbled me: one was from a man who was a retired minister. He reached out to me on Classmates.com saying he wished he was still preaching: he would have used my story in a sermon. The second was a man from Massachusetts who texted me (the boyfriend of one of my sons' college roommates) saying my book should be required reading for all high-schoolers as an example of overcoming obstacles. Both comments quite moved me: I never had thought my life was THAT remarkable. Apparently some believe I have been wrong.
I grew up believing I was an unlikable, inconvenient distraction. It led me down a path of extraordinary self-reliance and self-direction. I never realized how deeply self-reliance and self-direction was ingrained, and how strongly those two traits were, until I had the luxury of thinking deeply about life and relationships, decades later. Even now it comes as a surprise how some in the world see me. a family shows no acknowledgment at all, old classmates fete me with mementos of effusive thanks for orchestrating a class reunion, nominating me for a high school-based lifetime achievement award. Instead of being told no one would ever like me, I receive come-ons from men who have worked on a house addition for me, seeing how I live life day after day, or from men who have simply read this book. There are those that have said "It's hard to love a Sherman tank." I guess there are also those that admire and respect strength without being intimidated. I need to stick with the latter.
There are lots of very interesting people out there: mostly, what makes them interesting is that they lie on the fringes of "normal." Add in marina life, add in Miami Beach, and it's as if the butterflies are drawn to flame. The people I describe here were real and living right down the dock.
I wrote this book as I experienced life as a child: in many ways never questioning the why's of events. Things just "were." There is little retrospective analysis, which is not uncommon is small children. I simply invite you to walk with me a ways...
It's so very true about not messing with a Momma Bear. My older son was a challenge to raise - more so for teachers than me. He was simply, cheerfully disobedient. Consistently, inexorably, but cheerfully disobedient. The school district decided he needed to be in an enclosed classroom for emotionally disabled children. Not really, but that's what they decided. At the time I went along with the plan... until my son told me he wasn't getting an education, and he wanted to go back to school. Real school. It's when the school administration balked - that's when I Summoned the Tiger.
A wonderful memoir. Sharply-remembered, compulsively readable, written in the clear and natural voice of a born storyteller, Summon the Tiger takes us through the ups, downs, and ups again of a singularly remarkable life. With a Dickensian sweep of fascinating characters and often-improbable events, Wendy Sura Thomson shares with her lucky readers the rich details and adventures of her childhood, girlhood, youth, and maturity, from her earliest memories to her many accomplishments in the heart of American industry. It is a story of courage and grace, told with elan and a joi de vivre that shines off every page. Highly recommended!
It is common to hear people say that they wished they had asked their grandparents or parents about their lives before they were no longer able or around. I was always interested, and I reveled in my grandmother's stories. Looking back, I am amazed and impressed at what people like my dad's family did to survive. Today most people are burdened by emotional issues, forgetting that just a generation or two ago people were burdened by putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. Relatives died from simply cured conditions because they didn't have the money to visit a doctor. My father was an immigrant, entering the US two weeks before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. His family's story defines grit, and I am in awe of what they accomplished.
My father had been living with us for a couple of years before he passed. He and I spent two glorious years getting to know one another, which was a blessing and an honor for me. He passed away in the middle of the night in the family room, 36 hours after my ex died - who managed to die on my birthday. It was incredibly hard on my two sons, who were both away at college, two weeks before finals. Even though my father was in a coma, I had heard that perhaps he could still hear. I had jazz playing for him 24-7 those last few days. On that Saturday morning the first thing I noticed was that the music was turned down quite low. I had a sense of dread... as if I believed that jazz was keeping him alive. When I could barely hear the music my first thought was "Oh no. The day the music [and my father] died."
Within six hours of setting sail to travel around the world we were involved in a collision - freighter v. freighter. I can still remember standing there in the wheelhouse and watching certain collision in slow motion. It's a very eerie feeling knowing there is no where to go to avoid certain collision, especially when one has minutes to contemplate it.
I ended with these two final life lessons. The last one has become a signature line for me. It speaks to strongly standing for a deeply held belief... something, that if done, better be on the right side of the debate. Otherwise, a person ends up simply being somewhat of an ass.
Third installment: as I have thought about this, these are probably two of the most important guiding principles to me. Being strong does have its drawbacks, but all-in-all, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. And as to the second: understand unintended consequences and you will very rarely get kicked in the butt.
Inspired by a request by my son: two more life lessons.
My son surprised me by asking me to document some of my more important life lessons. Here are a couple of them...
I had always considered my home my fortress - safe haven from the vagaries of the world. When my fortress was violated it took me years to stop feeling on edge. When someone breaks in repeatedly... when someone leaves threatening letters in your mailbox telling you they have been peering in your windows at night, reciting what you did that evening - it is insanely unnerving. The experience forever changed my assessment of my fellow humans. I think that now, as a result, I am quite sensitized to behavioral inconsistencies in others. I give those people wide berth.
Summon the Tiger by Wendy Sura Thomson is a wonderful memoir and I thought Wendy came across as a calm, non-judgmental, strong, and sensible person with a good head on her shoulders. It is not easy growing up with a permanent disability and a neglectful or abusive family background, but Wendy appears to have risen above it. I also loved the fact that she is a great parent to her children and has a good relationship with them, which is admirable. The writing style of this autobiography is smooth and sequential. Wendy’s story itself is compelling and gives hope to other people who may be in similar situations. This is an engaging memoir that I would recommend. - G Dixon, Readers' Favorite, 5 stars
"I can't find the words to accurately say how this book made me feel; it is a wonderful example and I applaud how much it took to write this story as well as live through the events in it. If you want to feel inspired and find the strength to work through your own trials in life, read this book. I promise that you will enjoy every moment of it." - K. Bennett, Readers' Favorite
It's true that you can get deep insight out of the most unfortunate situations. I have always been one to ask, "Why?" I also have worked hard to make sense of things: make it so that everything ties together. The following except describes one of those moments, where two unrelated events, taken together, solve a piece of the personal puzzle.
It's still difficult, even 30-some years later, to speak of a child that died. Even highlighting this passage caused me to well up. It is virtually impossible to come up with words that adequately describe such a tragic event,
I am fairly certain every woman has had "Me too" moments. I have had my share - here's one. And it was not the only time I returned to find a man standing in my living room wearing only his socks. Me, too.
I was very fortunate to be asked to sing in a concert tour of Italy. Nothing like singing your way across Italy for a couple of weeks. I have a deep love of Italy that will be with me always.
There were dark moments in my life - ugly moments. Here I describe the violent attack I endured from my sister's first husband.
While my father was living with us I asked him about his life. I spent two days, sitting with him at the kitchen counter, with a video camera rolling discreetly from a corner of the room. At first he was having a difficult time remembering, but as he spoke, more memories returned. I think capturing such stories is a most valuable exercise: here I briefly captured his experience in the Philippines as his unit attempted to isolate the Bataan Peninsula.
A quirky sense of humor and a matter-of-fact approach to life can help shepherd a person through all sorts of challenges. Here I speak briefly about an unintended benefit of having one leg made of willow.
I was a senior financial analyst on the corporate strategy staff at the "old" GM. In 1992 we told GM C-levels they seriously needed to change: we told them the plan to which they were marching would sink the ship. We were (obviously) ignored: that (obviously) was a grave mistake.
I must admit, being able to relay that I took off to sail the world on a Dutch freighter my father bought has always been a great opening line. There I was, nineteen years old, and a navigator. Not a common item on a resume.
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